The text came at 4:30 am, startling me as I woke from a deep sleep. I had made it a habit to use the do not disturb setting on my phone, but on this particular occasion, I must have forgotten to do so before going to bed. I rolled over and grabbed my phone from the nightstand. The text read “Thanks for making me feel used”. I sat up immediately, heart racing. I read the text again, hoping I had misread it. I hadn’t. The text came from a woman who I had gone on a date with a few days prior. Let’s call this woman Jenny.
I met Jenny on Match.com in late March of 2016 and after exchanging phone numbers, we began texting daily. The conversations were pretty standard, things like what each other was up to that day, our jobs, family, etc. We also discussed our experiences and exchanged horror stories with online dating. The texts included playful banter and from time to time, a few sprinkles of sexual innuendos. This went on for a couple of weeks and eventually, we made the decision to meet in person. She had shared early on of her interest in learning how to play golf so I suggested we meet up at the driving range for our first date. She agreed.
On the morning of the date, I was about to get into the shower when I received a text message from Jenny. It read “here’s a pic of me”. The picture was of a bathroom mirror, steamed up, like after a long hot shower. But there was something more to this picture. It was easy to tell that Jenny was standing in front of that steamy mirror, naked. It wasn’t perfectly clear but I could definitely make out the outline of her body…and her curves. The picture required some imagination on my part which added intrigue and sexiness but it wasn’t an actual naked picture so it was harmless, right?
Jenny and I met up at the driving range later that morning. After a few minutes of hitting balls, Jenny commented that she was jealous of the way my driver made a pinging sound whereas hers made a relatively weak thud type of sound. I explained that her driver was quite old and that most new drivers made the sound she was getting all excited about. I handed my driver to her and suggested she try it. So she did and she loved it. Her face lit up as each swing produced a loud pinging sound that echoed throughout the nearly empty indoor driving range. After a few more swings, Jenny turned my way, smirked a little, and said “I bet you didn’t think I would have your stick in my hands on our first date”. I smiled. A sexy comment, from a sexy older woman. But it was all in good fun, right?
We finished hitting balls and decided to keep the date going so we made our way back to my condo which was down the street from the driving range. I offered her bottled water or red wine…the only drinks I had available. She opted for wine so I opened a bottle, poured two glasses and we sat down on the couch in the family room. We chatted for a bit and when Jenny had finished her glass, she asked to use the restroom. I pointed her in the direction of the guest bathroom down the hall.
A few minutes later, she exited the bathroom and stood in the hallway, looking at the mirror on the wall. I walked up behind her and asked what she was doing. She smiled and took a step backward, gently bumping into me and said “we’re a good looking couple, don’t you think?” I slid my arms around her waist and smiled. “Yea, we are pretty cute.” She then turned around and began kissing me. Within a few seconds, our bodies were laying on top of each other in the guest bedroom.
After a few more seconds of kissing, Jenny interrupted the kissing and blurted out, “We just can’t have sex, ok”. I can honestly say that sex was without a doubt the last thing on my mind. And I can confidently say this because I was a virgin and had no plans to change that status prior to being married. I just assumed we were just going to mess around a little bit, you know, a little kissing, a little rubbing against each other, because just doing that was ok, right? But Jenny had other plans in mind and after a little messing around, she offered to perform oral sex. I had always been attracted to older women and Jenny’s invitation was too tempting to turn down.
After we completed our sexual encounter, Jenny commented on needing to go grocery shopping for food for her kids. We both got dressed and I walked her to the front door and we kissed goodbye. I didn’t call or text Jenny the rest of that day, or the next day, or the day after that. The next communication between the two of us was the text I received at 4:30 am. Clearly Jenny felt like I had stopped calling her because I had gotten something out of her, and was now able to discard her like trash to the curb.
I sat there in bed for a while, unsure of how to respond to Jenny’s text. I was in a position I had never been in my entire life. “Using girls” for sex was something I had seen a lot of my friends do over the years…but never something I had ever been accused of. Jenny’s accusation bothered me and it felt unwarranted so I decided to dismiss it and not respond. As the day went on, I began to worry about how my silence would be received, so later that evening, I finally replied back. Jenny wanted no part of my explanation for not calling her. She was convinced I had used her for sex and nothing I said was going to change that. The communication between the two of us abruptly ended after that.
As the days, weeks…and even months went by, the experience with Jenny lingered in my head. I thought about it often and found myself constantly coming back to the same conclusion – that it was all her fault. I defended my position by noting that she had sent the sexy pic the morning of our date (unsolicited might I add). She had made the sexual reference at the driving range. And she was the one who offered the sexual act. In my mind, I was completely blameless because she had clearly been positioning the date to end with a sexual encounter. And even though I maintained my innocence, a heaviness had fallen on me and the weight of it was palpable. Additionally, my prayer life had been significantly waning. I struggled often coming before the Lord and my desire to go to church was nonexistent. On rare occasions, I actually made it to church, I could no longer offer praise and worship to God. I’d stand there, often staring at the ground, afraid to look up toward God out of shame and guilt because I was hiding a secret.
Something was severely wrong and my prayers were getting me nowhere. The joy of the Lord had left me and it wasn’t long before I was completely paralyzed with depression and anxiety. Finally, out of desperation, I decided to seek counseling with a Christian therapist. All the symptoms I was experiencing, from the depression and anxiety to the distance I felt from God, began after the experience with Jenny so I knew there was a correlation. Defiantly stubborn, I stayed far away from discussing the event in therapy. Instead, I opted to keep my image clean and pure to the therapist by lying through the first few sessions filling her head with how spiritually minded this born-again Christian sitting in front of her was. I was too ashamed to let my therapist know the truth and the truth was this. Not only had I been sexually immoral, going back long before the encounter with Jenny, but Jenny’s text was absolutely spot on…I had used her.
You see, when Jenny and I began communicating, she was very open about her desire for a long term relationship. And while I was genuinely seeking the same, I wasn’t sure I could do so with someone who had three children—something Jenny shared very early on. I should have ended things right then and there. That would have been the right thing to do and a better man would have done it. But I enjoyed exchanging texts with Jenny. And if I’m completely honest, I liked the attention I was getting from an attractive, older woman. So I elected to keep the communication going longer instead of being honest with Jenny that I saw no future with us.
After months of going around in circles in therapy, things came to a head during one session in early August. I was drowning in guilt and shame and I finally broke down, laying out all my hidden sins to my therapist. It was a rough session as I poured out all the failures and mistakes I had been making for years. I cried my heart out and spoke of the fear that my sin had caused God’s presence to leave me and that I would never enjoy intimacy with Him again. As the session continued, she reminded me of King David’s failure when he committed adultery with Bathsheba – and he was “a man after God’s own heart. She then thanked me for being honest and asked permission to speak honestly with me. Unsure of what she wanted to say, I reluctantly agreed.
She went into detail about how she had listened for months, as I consistently glossed over sin, especially sexual immorality as if it wasn’t a big deal. She referenced many stories, mostly ones I had previously told her related to other Match.com dates where I described how often I and how extremely close I had been playing near-sexual sin. She went on about how often I would justify my behavior because I “wasn’t having intercourse”. She even referenced the two-year relationship I had with my ex-girlfriend and how even in a loving, committed, long term relationship, oral sex is still sin. She reminded me that all sexual acts outside of marriage were sin and that choosing to not see it that way was simply an act of disobedience to the word of God. She had no doubt in her mind that my issues were not mental in nature, they were spiritual.
She offered to lead me in a prayer of repentance and encouraged me to confess what I knew to be sin right then and there in her office, assuring me that the stronghold that had gripped my mind could be broken through God’s forgiveness. I did as she requested and verbally acknowledging my sexual sins to both my therapist and to God. I thanked Jesus for going to the cross for my sins and responded in faith by declaring and receiving healing and restoration through the finished work of the cross. Almost instantaneously, something unseen popped in that office. I could feel it…as could my therapist. The heaviness had lifted from my mind.
It’s been almost three years since the breakthrough in my therapist’s office and during this time, I have completely avoided dating. This decision was a deliberate one and wasn’t rooted in an inaccurate belief that dating is inherently wrong. No, I made this decision based on one simple reason – I wanted to recommit myself to the Lord and to His ways. Over time, I had allowed myself to believe the lie that God wasn’t enough for me. I felt the best way to overcome the lie was to avoid the distractions caused by dating. Instead, I focused my time solely on the Lord by giving Him my time and all of my heart.
I’ve been in awe as I’ve watched God renew my mind, lifting the depression and anxiety from my life. I’ve been experiencing a sweeter and deeper intimacy with God that I hadn’t experienced since those early days of salvation. And I’ve watched as God has led me to a new church, one where I have been growing in ways I never thought possible.
I don’t know when I’ll be ready to date again. Maybe soon, maybe never again. But the time away from dating has allowed me to learn about the frailty of my heart, the weakness of my flesh and my utter dependency on God. I had been sinning for a while, and getting by relatively unscathed. How foolish of me to think that my sin was not going to eventually catch up to me. And true to His word, God used all the sorrow, guilt and shame over what I had done to Jenny for good (Romans 8:28). He used it to draw me back into His loving arms.
I also learned something about the very nature of my Heavenly Father’s heart. He’s not ashamed of us when we sin. He’s not mad at us when we don’t measure up. He wants to heal us and that begins by restoring our relationship with Him. And the only way that can be done is through His Son, Jesus.
Lastly, I want to speak directly to Jenny, wherever you are. I’m truly sorry for not being honest with you about my intentions. I regret not being a man of godly character and for treating you the way I did. I’m deeply ashamed of the person I was when we met and I hope one day you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me.
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